Vale's Gracee Jacobs slides into second base during a home game earlier this season. The Lady Viks finished the league season last weekend with a perfect 12-0 mark. (The Enterprise/File).
IRRIGON – What do you know, the Lady Vikings are 12-0.
The Vale softball team is now in the driver’s seat going into Eastern Oregon League district season play this week. The Lady Vikings - the No. 1 seeded team in the district - will play the winner of the Enterprise/Joseph/Wallowa and Nyssa game at about 3 p.m. Friday in Vale for the district title.
The Enterprise/Joseph/Wallowa and Nyssa game begins at 1 p.m.
Vale coach Cirbi Morrison said clinching the league was a “big deal.”
“I think a lot of people overlooked us,” said Morrision.
The Lady Vikings capped their undefeated league season with a doubleheader sweep of Irrigion Friday, though it wasn’t easy.
In the first game, Vale trailed 7-5 going into the seventh but plated four runners to post a 9-7 win. In the second game Vale scored all five of its runs in the second inning on the way to a 5-3 victory.
If outside expectations for the season were modest for the Vikings, internally the team was ready to make a statement, said Morrison.
“I’ve had some girls really improve this year that needed to and they did,” said Morrison.
A turning point, Morrison said, was early in the season when the Vikings traveled to Wallowa County and rolled through a doubleheader with Enterprise/Joseph/Wallowa. Vale piled up 33 runs in the twin bill win.
“That was kind of the first game where the girls really started having fun together,” said Morrison.
During league play the Vikings utilized an explosive offense to either take control or to come back from steep deficits.
“If our bats are not working, it’s tough,” said Morrison.
Along with come-from-behind win against Irrigion last weekend, the Vikings also fought back against Nyssa earlier in season to win after trailing 10-1.
“When we put up runs it gives us a little bit of insurance in case something happens on the defense, then we can cover it,” said Morrison.
Vale scored 271 runs so far this season.
Morrison said she was surprised her team ploughed through the league schedule with no losses.
“There are some tough teams in our league,” said Morrison.
Only one team, Nyssa, played the Vikings close. Vale won both games against the Bulldogs, but only by a narrow margin.
Vale could end up seeing the Bulldogs again this week. The breakdown for postseason play in the Eastern Oregon League looks like this: Enterprise/Joseph/Wallowa and Irrigon played earlier this week. The winner of that game moved ahead to play Nyssa Friday in Vale. The winner of that contest then will face the Vikings Friday afternoon.
Admission to Friday's games in Vale is $6 for adults and $4 for students.
Reporter Pat Caldwell: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.
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